Taxi Driver Diaries II
Little Havana, sundown. I notice the Cubans are looser than New York. No organization. The Haitians are coming out on top...
I gotta get organized. Sonny's gonna to be coming for me. Not now, but a few months from now when this whole mess is wrapped up and there's a business for him to take over. It doesn't matter when I get the money, the drugs. I'm a goner; it's been fifteen years in the making. But Tommy Vercetti doesn't die so easy.
West Flager. The Cubans hold more weight here. The Rollers, the Benzes. Gotta be twenty, thirty ounces floating around this joint tonight . I can't make out their main man. From here, it's all chains and gold teeth. Gotta get inside...
Gotta fix this clutch...
Two-fifteen, near Domino Park, I sign him in,
"Hey big boy," Cuban, large, muscle-top. Handlebar moustache of outrageous proportions. "Cafe Robina, step on it. I'm going to make love like a man, ain't that right baby?"
Young, blonde, slim; his squeeze for the night: "Oh, you're bad."
"You gonna see how bad I am," He brags - then missteps big time. "I'm going to make love to you like I love my mother."
She's out of the cab before he can even begin to reconcile his miswording. "Ew, gross..."
"Hey, baby," the Cuban struggles to free himself from the worn cushioned seats, but dashes after her, "Where you going?"
He doesn't notice that he's left behind his briefcase. Expensive, croc-embossed.
I sat down later on and wondered why I didn't drive away with the case in my back seat. Long term, I know I made the right call. All you gotta do in Miami is follow the case...
The Cuban, returning, catches his breath. His eyes fix upon the case; in all the excitement, he's forgotten he's left it behind. Suddenly thankful, slightly embarrassed: "Cabbie, you're a gentleman. A stallion," He reaches out with a jewel encrusted hand and settles himself back into the rear seats.
"Drive Umberto to Biscayne Boulevard."
He spends the entire journey bragging about his lovemaking prowess, his knowledge of El Burro movies, and his love of an up-and-coming porn star named Candy Suxxx. I know from Cortez's party Candy is the current squeeze of Alex Shrub, Miami's congressman. The poor bastard doesn't have a chance, but I let the guy talk. I find out Candy got her start as a working girl on 21st Street, South Beach. Rumour has it, she still makes an appearance.
Two forty-five, we're cruising north along Biscayne and into the 70s. Umberto wants to pull in on 72nd. I offer to keep the engine running and double back to whereever he calls home, long as he's paying. It gives me a chance to watch the trade.
Turns out, Miami's red light district is concentrated here on the Upper East Side. It's a good idea to make a note of the bars and the flophouses.. The Playboy Club, The Vagabond Motel, Grid Girls. With my threads, I could blend into Toucan Play no problem. Each of them are their own little patch. Gotta take advantage...
Three A.M. and Umberto exits the Metro Motel with his chest out and a smile on his face: "Take me back to the cafe, but pull around back," he asks. "I don't wanna wake papa."
He falls asleep and I decide to let the meter run double. I'm going to tell him I stopped to gas up, but there's something playing on my mind. I know I said earlier all you gotta do in Miami is follow the case. It helps to know what's inside the case to begin with. Umberto ain't a bright boy. It's not going to take me until sunrise to figure the combination.
Inside I find a tightly wrapped kilo. It's a doughy white paste - not powder - with a faint shimmer of pink that I have to check isn't a reflection of neon. Uncut product like this, I could knock it down six, even seven times and flip it on the street, take a flight to Brazil and become a memory. For a moment, I watch Umberto sleep. I watch his nostrils flare, his stomach rise and fall, his fat fingers with the chunky 18-karat jewellery. Taking him out would solve an immediate problem. It ain't gonna solve my future problems. I refocus on the road ahead.
The Cubans are selling and Umberto is their salesman. Gotta be. What I've seen so far, they couldn't organize a pool and put together a pot to import a weight of product this good without painting Little Havana red. He's gonna float this key all over town and they're gonna move through the highest bidder. Gotta find out their supplier. Start making my own moves...
Cafe Robina, NW 4th Street, just north of West Flagler. Ten kilos of what Umberto is carrying out in his briefcase, they can whack up to a hundred and put out on the street. When that comes down, every Florida a**hole is going to want in on that pie. Better keep a close eye on this one. See who crawls out from under the woodwork.
Umberto wakes. "Oh sh*t, we're here." Red eyed, he looks around. "Sh*t, I think I pissed my pants amigo."
Coincidence, I hope. He takes his case and hands over a payment he doesn't need to count. He only carries hundreds.
"You drive good, amigo. Maybe you stop by Cafe Robina and drive for Umberto again, eh?"
I nod. I might just do that.